Appalachia Service Project races to build house for Tri-Cities woman


BRISTOL, Va. (WJHL) – The first races of Bristol Motor Speedway’s jam-packed weekend begin on Thursday evening. But earlier in the day, volunteers outside of The World’s Fastest Half-Mile began a race of their own.

Appalachia Service Project (ASP), along with other local organizations and contractors, started their “Race to Build 48 Hours” at noon.

Over the past several years, the “Race to Build” has transformed from a single-home project to a competition between groups of college students. However, in 2021, ASP decided to return to the challenge’s single-home roots – with an added twist.

“We’re going to get this thing built, since we built the first one in 60 hours, let’s give ourselves a challenge,” President and CEO of Appalachia Service Project Walter Crouch said. “This is Bristol – so 48 hours.”

Upon completion on Saturday, the house will be handed over to Ms. Carmella Lee. Lee is a single grandmother caring for her two granddaughters.

She has also been battling breast cancer since 2019.

The new home, which will be transported to Johnson City, will cut down on Lee’s commute to take her two granddaughters to school.

“This, for her, as she would say, is life-changing,” Crouch said. “And it really is. Having a good home is what everyone wants, I think.”

Hundreds of volunteers are expected to contribute to the project over the next two days. That includes a group of students from Middle Tennessee State University.

“The thing that we encourage all of our student members is to be involved,” Middle Tennessee State Associate Professor of Construction Management Duane Vanhook said. “When you get out of the program, you’re not only a builder, you’re a part of the community. So, you need to be able to support that community.”

A few ARCA Menard’s Series drivers stopped by as well, to lend a helping hand.

“None of the drivers that were here today helping out knew who [Ms. Lee] was, but they were all hands-on, including me and some of my competitors,” GMS Racing driver Daniel Dye said. “It was cool to be able to help out people that need it. You’ve just got to be there for the people around you, whether or not you know them.”

Crouch believes it is that sense of selfless service that creates the fullest experience for the recipient, as well as the volunteers.

“People I think, deep down, are all created to serve and to give,” he said. “A lot of people think there is joy in getting. But the joy, really, is in the giving.”

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